Thursday, October 29, 2009

Embroidery: Purly Wurly Takes a Picture

("Purly Wurly Takes a Picture", 1998,
embroidery floss on linen, 11 inches by 16 inches)
*click to enlarge*

The above embroidery was sewn over a three month period in the late 1990's when Piero and I were living in London. It was a heady time. Tony Blair was riding the wave of "Cool Britannia", a pickled shark had the art world agog, and the bands Piero worked with (Radiohead, Blur, The Verve) ruled the airwaves. On October 3rd we were married in a quickie 15-minute ceremony at the Chelsea Registry Office. When the book was placed in front of me to sign, I was a bit taken aback to see the word "Spinster" emblazoned in huge writing next to my name. Evidently, holding off until the age of 32 to get hitched had consigned me to that rather mortifying appellation. Piero of course had a sexy hand-written "Bachelor" next to his name.

One weekend we were invited by some friends to spend a few days at an ancient manor house in Scotland with a gaggle of their acquaintances. (If you read this blog, you'll know I'm referring to Gargunnock House.) It was our first time meeting most of the other people and you know me, I'm always up for an impromptu adventure. Our fellow houseguests included a Brazilian backup dancer for the Pet Shop Boys and his saintly boyfriend (appropriately named Angel); two PR women from Piero's office at EMI Records; a glamorous vermillion-haired DJ named Princess Julia and her semi-brutish boyfriend (seen at front left of the embroidery) who fought constantly; and a celebrated makeup artist named Purly Wurly who spent the entire time looking for her drug buddy Leonard (the one in the camouflage shirt) who had set up shop in one of the spare bedrooms.

During the dinner pictured above, the feast Piero cooked remained largely uneaten and various people kept disappearing only to return minutes later with a sudden case of the sniffles. Despite the occasional drama, it was a rollicking, laugh-laden weekend, complete with midnight wellie walks, candlelit games of sardines and an actual costume ball. A few weeks after our stay there, I heard that Princess Julia cut up all her boyfriend's clothes and tossed them out the window of her Clerkenwell flat. And sadly, Purly Wurly never overcame her battle with substance abuse. She died a few years after this piece was completed. I look at it now as a woven snapshot of a highly colorful moment in time, when life felt unrestrained and some of us were either unafraid or unconscious of how our actions would affect our futures.

26 comments:

Style Court said...

Lisa, your work is so fascinating because the colors are joyful, at least to me, and filled with energy, but then there is a darker more serious edge. Love how you captured the old portraits on the wall.

Cathi said...

Wow, that is an amazing piece of work - just beautiful, and the story is fabulous too! Thanks for sharing this! :)

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Style Court: I have always been fascinated by the duality of glamour and fury, and yes, you're right, the bright colors belie it, but there is indeed a subtext of "all is not quite right" in that embroidery. :)

Mrs. Blandings said...

An amazing piece of work and an amazing story.

Laura [What I Like] said...

My you've captured the spirit of this moment so beautifully! The lines are just a tad squiggly, the expressions (at least on the brute) a tad dark, but the colors (nearly) mask it all. I think you could probably write a screenplay about that weekend...

So Lovely said...

That piece is so amazing. Completely captured the story behind it, hilarity but the fun has to end. As you know from what I do, I've been in far too many similar situations, for me mostly private islands. I would almost like to be a little more naive. xxx

Mlle Paradis said...

It's only rocknroll but I like it?

katiedid said...

Wow....what a writr you are. I remember similiar experiences, but you make it sound so much more glamourous and interesting! I will need to rethink how I view my world. You have inspired me yet again!

Anonymous said...

A lady therein seems to be displaying the universal "finger" sign; am I right?

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Laura (What I Like): I should probably have the thing reblocked to smooth out those horizontal lines...it's a painstaking process because the embroidery causes warping in so many different directions: when one area is straightened, another area goes crooked. :(

So Lovely: Private islands, huh? Hmmm...that certainly does NOT sound unfabulous. And I think you would make a wonderful dinner companion..for me, worldliness trumps naivete anyday! :)

Mlle Paradis: LOVE that. You're a clever little thing, aren't you? xx

KatieDid: Someday we'll have to trade tales...!

Anonymous: Yes. You are right. That's Princess Julia. She hated having her photo taken!

Laura [What I Like] said...

Lisa - Don't do a thing to it! I love the slightly off kilter lines.

Amber from Brisbane, Australia said...

Ah the reality of the rock'n roll life! Chiara-scuro. There needs to be darkness to allow the lightness to shine. But oh how the lightness shines when the dark is so dark!

Angie Muresan said...

I love it as it is, too. You captured the essence of the people and the event magnificently! What a shame that Piero's food went to waste, though. Had I been there I'd have gobbled it all up.

Helen James said...

You are a talented lady! the juxtaposition of an ancient traditional skill against the completely modern subject matter and the subtext!!! love it. Have you ever been approached about having an exhibition?

Helen James said...

oh and I love the title!! the play on words of her name with curly wurly is so fitting

Joanna said...

You have a wonderful eye for color. I just found your blog after reading C and I'm so glad that I did.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Joanna: Thank you for stopping by! xx

meenal said...

WOW...what amazing talent you have...not just with needle and thread but also with words!!love love love your blog!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Helen James: Re: your question about ever having an exhibition, something very exciting is actually on the horizon...I'll keep you posted.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Meenal: Welcome!

A Super Dilettante said...

TO me, it's like an exploration of a moment's emotion frozen in time. It is a labour of love. It's truthful when a very personal memory could be chanelled into an insight or creativity! It decribes you do something you love and that you have an emotional connection.

helen tilston said...

Fabulous, beautiful original art- you are capturing life, on linen, with your needles and thread life, as it happens around you

Helen Tilston

Julie Anne Rhodes said...

Oh how true that last sentiment is, although I would do it all the same if given the choice to do it over again... snapshots and memories like these are priceless.

BTW, the spinster thing had nothing to do with your age. I was 25 when I married at Marylebone registry office, and it said the same on my marriage certificate. As unflattering as it sounds, it simply means a single female in Blighty.

Amber Smith said...

Lisa = I am in awe of your embroideries, they are wonderful and I love this one in particular after hearing the backstory :)

Dave said...

Good Point!

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Thought you might want to check it out.

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